by Tad Lindley
Did you ever lay awake at night tormented by anger at someone who hurt you or humiliated you? You might even have thought about how if you could relive that day, you would perhaps even have killed them. But now that it is all history, yet somehow it still has a grip on you. The person that hurt you may not have thought about you in years, they may even be dead, and yet here they are living rent free in your brain. If that’s you, you are suffering from resentment.
AA on resentment
I went to treatment when I was 13 for drugs and alcohol. I have been sober ever since. Up until the time I received the Holy Ghost, I was very active in Alcoholics Anonymous. I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of elders who were there in the beginning, before the AA book had been written, when the book that was on the table in meetings was the Bible. In fact if you have read the Big Book of AA and are a student of the Bible you no doubt see a lot of the Bible in the Big Book. I want to focus on one sentence in particular from that book: Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease… (p.64).
Jesus’ message on resentment
Resentment is the failure to forgive someone for something when they have done us wrong. At the same time he gave his disciples the Lord’s prayer Jesus gave them this teaching on resentment. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:15) In other words, if you will not forgive you cannot be forgiven; if you will not lay down your resentments, you cannot be saved. Resentment really is the number one offender.
It’s like this
We might think, if God would forgive us, how could we continue to hold on to resentments against others. It’s like this parable: Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. (Matthew 18:23-27 NKJV)
Get your hands off his throat please
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feetand begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:28-35 NKJV)
Relaxing the chokehold
Jesus gave this powerful promise for those who struggle with unforgiveness: If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14) Letting go of resentments requires the help and power of God. Seek him in prayer to help you forgive, and begin to pray for the person who hurt you, not a prayer that God would kill them or make them suffer the way you have, but that God would bless them. What? That God would bless them? Yep, that’s right, ask God to bless them. Did Jesus not say, Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. (Luke 6:28 NLT) It doesn’t make sense, but then neither does forgiveness. And without forgiveness we cannot get victory and we cannot be saved.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.